• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Some of the firms mentioned by the IIAR’s analyst team awards fall short of excellence. That’s the verdict of several hundred analysts who took our Analyst Attitude Survey, and of the CEO of one of the top analyst firms. Phil Fersht left the comment below on our criticism of the IIAR awards. We thought we’d reprint it together with the […]

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    The 2016 Institute for Industry Analyst Relations’ awards seem to be rewarding firms for the scale of their analyst relations, rather than their quality. In a blog post on July 6th, the IIAR awarded IBM the status of best analyst relations teams, with Cisco, Dell and HP as runners-up. Together with Microsoft, which outsources much of its analyst relations to […]

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

     It’s a common challenge for providers: some new or fast-changing market contains very different solutions. Clients want either apples or oranges, but the analyst research reads more like fruit salad. As new solutions come into old markets, or as analysts try to squeeze hot new solutions into their less-exciting coverage areas, it’s increasingly hard for users of analyst research to make […]

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Because a lot of analysts take part in our Analyst Attitude Surveys, we are able to offer clients what we call a control group. In the language of research, a control group is a group of people who don’t get the treatment that we want to measure the effectiveness of. For example, most firms might be focussed on a top tier […]

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Worldwide, Analyst Relations teams are committed to fostering the best information exchange, experiences and trusted relationships with tightly-targetted global industry analysts and influencers. Sometimes the targeting is too narrow and analysts are treated inhumanly. However, the technology buying process is transforming and so must the benchmarking of analyst relationships. There’s already a long-term transformation of analyst relations. Over one-third of technology […]

Vendor complains in a very public blog post about Gartner’s Data Integration Magic Quadrant

gartner-andy-bitterertalend-yves-de-montcheuilThere is an interesting online conversation via blogs going on between Talend VP of Marketing Yves de Montcheuil (A comment on Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Data Integration, photo left) and Gartner’s Andy Bitterer (Setting the Record Straight, photo right). This is interesting because it is unusual for a vendor to engage Gartner in a public forum about its research or methodology, and for a Gartner analyst to respond to criticism. Kudos to both Yves and Andy for engaging in this conversation. The other example that SageCircle knows of a vendor addressing perceived analyst shortcomings was by Jive Software Chief Marketing Officer Sam Lawrence. You can find a link to Sam’s post at Doing unto analysts what they do unto vendors. Sam received a positive response from the analysts to his post.

Yves basic complaint is that analysts like Gartner do not pay enough attention to open source vendors. He claims Gartner focuses too much on stodgy vendors that do not represent the future when researching the Magic Quadrant (MQ). Andy’s response is a point-by-point rebuttal of each of Yves’ comments including being very firm on their policy that vendors that do not meet the revenue criterion will not be included.

The Magic Quadrant methodology is not perfect when it comes to small vendors

While Gartner has steadily improved the MQ methodology over the last few years, it is far from perfect. One problem is that there is not complete transparency when it comes to all criteria, especially the ones based on the analyst’s subjective opinions. This is especially troublesome to small vendors without experienced AR professionals who do not realize they have to probe the analysts to get all criteria, their weights, and how they are scored. Another problem is that there is only so much room on a MQ and therefore only a subset of vendors can be included. This is also an issue with the Forrester Wave. Often the criteria for excluding vendors can be arbitrary and inflexible. Some analysts will include a sidebar or footnote mentioning interesting vendors who did not make the cut, but this is not a universal practice.

What could be the biggest issue for small vendors is the impact Gartner’s IT manager clients have on research. A significant source of information for the average Gartnerian comes informally via phone-based client inquiry. Often vendors hear Gartner analysts say “Well, I am not hearing anything about you from my clients” as part of the reason why they are not being covered. This reliance on end-user clients as a source obviously skews the pool of data points. Gartner’s client base is not a statistically valid sample for all types of research and only clients that choose to set up an inquiry are counted.

Small vendors need to take some responsibility

It is not just the flaws in the MQ methodology that exclude deserving vendors, they do themselves no favors by not seriously addressing AR. SageCircle has rather blunt questions for any vendor complaining about exclusion from analyst research like the MQ:

  • Has the vendor truly invested in an AR program? By investment, we do not mean merely spending money on analyst contracts (though that is a tool), but have they hired an in-house AR professional and allocated serious executive and domain expert time to interact with the analysts?
    • A “jack of all trades” (e.g., PR manager or marketing director) might have analyst outreach as part of their task list but certainly does not have bandwidth nor skills (best practices) to engage in effective AR
    • Small vendors often rely on their PR agency for AR activity as well. This is often a major mistake as the typical PR agency is a pretender when it comes to AR expertise, often treating analysts like reporters a tactic which analysts loathe
  • Has the vendor engaged in a concerted, long term campaign to influence the Magic Quadrant including at least one quality touch with each of the primary analysts every two to three weeks?
  • Has the vendor talked to the analysts to understand the criteria for inclusion and placement?
  • Has the vendor focused on influencing the underlying MQ criteria and not just try to get included on the MQ?
  • Has the vendor tried to influence related research (e.g., Cool Vendors and Hype Cycle) that indirectly influence the MQ?
  • Is the vendor effectively leveraging their customer base to educate the analysts?

Answering “no” to most of these questions means that the vendor will not be effective in influencing the analysts and the Magic Quadrant.

We do not have any information about Talend’s AR program, or if it even has one, but most very small vendors, open source or otherwise, do not have formal AR programs. As we pointed out in Are the analysts laggards or have startups neglected to brief them?, vendors should not be annoyed if they or their approach to a market is under covered by analysts if they have not invested the resources to effectively educate the analysts.

The size of the vendor really does not matter. What does matter is whether it sells to large enterprise IT departments, the core of Gartner’s and Forrester’s end-user client base.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Small vendors that sell to large enterprises should ask their sales reps if they get push back from prospects because the analysts do not cover the vendor
  • Small vendors should conduct a simple survey of their customers and prospects about their contracts with and use of industry analysts, especially for IT strategy and purchasing support
  • Small vendors should seriously consider investing in dedicated AR headcount when there is evidence the analysts directly impact sales (confirmed by talking to sales and customers)

Bottom Line: Small vendors often complain bitterly about being ignored by analysts at major firms. However these small vendors rarely invest in appropriate AR. What is ironic is that small vendors often devote considerable resources to PR, both in-house and agency. If the vendor only shifted a small part of those resources to AR they would see hard ROI in terms of lead generation and increased revenues, something that PR cannot deliver.

Question: Analysts – What is the major barrier to your coverage of small vendors?

Related posts:

4 Responses

  1. As the VP of marketing at another startup, I wanted to offer a slightly different perspective, posted on my company’s blog:

    http://blog.expressor-software.com/2009/01/05/gartner-for-startups/

  2. […] • Vendor complains in a very public blog post about Gartner’s Data Integration Magic Quadrant Sage Circle, 29 Dec 2008 • CIO best practices for thriving in a recession Counterintuitive, […]

  3. […] Comments Vendor complains in … on Are the analysts laggards or h…AR & Recession: … on Defining […]

  4. […] It’s been interesting to read the back and forth between Talend and Gartner on the challenges smaller vendors face “cracking the MQ code”. […]

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: